How To Use LED Grow Lights For Growing Plants – Special Tips

Lush green lettuce under LED grow lights in a modern indoor hydroponic farm.

In recent times, climate change has been an issue of concern to many gardeners because it has affected the effective light hour, heat intensity, moisture, and photosynthetic activity of plants.

However, most farmers have found a way around it with the use of LED grow lights. LED grow lights are a soothing alternative for their numerous benefits, such as being environmentally friendly, quick start, low power, no flash, and energy-saving.

Again if you use LED grow lights, chances are that the photosynthetic effect and the overall growth of plants will increase when there is a constant supply of light.

For example, spinach and radishes’ growth will improve as well as there will be an improvement in the morphological index.

These can save up to 73% of energy when parking lot lamps need to work long hours. Again if your country is in the winter-dominated region, then LED grow lights are very beneficial.

There are many more advantages to using grow lights, and we will discuss them in this article and how to use LED grow lights and other various sides of it.

We also recommend checking out our guides:

What are LED Grow Lights?

Without an understanding of what LED grow light is, it would be challenging to implement it.

LED grow lights are mass-produced lamps. They are the power and space-saving grow lights. LEDs have several applications.

Before this time, LED lamps had only the application of supplementary lighting. A grower may use HID grow light, but we need to use LED grow lights for more power if the plant needs extra light.

With the invention of LED panels, there is an even supply of light to the entire grow room. When other lighting systems need large ballast as well as a cooling system, LEDs are free of it. You can hang a panel circular, square, or in other shapes above plants.

Features of LED Grow Lights

Here are some of the essential features of LED grow lights to take note of:

Wavelength output

There was the claim that plants can’t grow in LED lights. But now, this view has changed with the improvement with the discovery of blue LEDs.

Most plants require specific wavelengths of light for their photosynthesis and growth. Scientific experiments determined that red and blue wavelengths are the most important ones.

Shop lights or traditional LED lights do not emit blue and red light, which are essential for growing plants indoors.

Vibrant indoor lettuce garden, flourishing under pink-hued LED grow lights.

Understanding watts

Watts is the measure of the energy input that light requires. The output of the LED light is not only the function of Watts but also the quality of other components and designs. The components are:

  1. LED chip
  2. Chip density
  3. Optics used
  4. Heatsink
  5. The driver

The increase in wattage decreases LED efficiency because of the rise in the temperature of the electronic circuit board. So when the manufacturer of LED grow light claims Watts, as the measure of the ability to grow plants, then it’s suspicious.

So you need maximum knowledge of Watts and PAR and must depend on manufacturers’ information.

Light intensity

If you take measurements of light sources from different distances with a light meter, you will find that light intensity drops with increasing the distance between the light source and the light meter.

You can understand the relationship between the physical law between light intensity and the distance from the source.

The manufacturer could set the position of the grow light high above the vegetation and light a large footprint. Then the output will be higher if the LED grow light is designed to stay close to the plants. The light intensity will be lower at the edge.

Leaf tissue can touch well-designed LEDs because these run cool enough, so the tissues don’t encounter any harm. Therefore you can keep these lights close to the plants. However, the light intensity has a limiting point because too much of it burns plant tissue.

LED chip quality

The diode should be manufactured with some specifications to emit the actual wavelength.

Reputable manufacturers use a sophisticated process so that the diode they produce will emit the correct light wavelength. Besides, some other manufacturers produce cheap LEDs to attract shoppers who are budget-conscious.

Cheap LEDs may not emit a particular necessary wavelength for plants, and the light intensity may differ. The customer should be aware of these facts.

LED lens

The quality of LEDs depends on the lens attached to them. The light lens affects the footprint and outputs. If it does not provide the wanted footprints and proper intensity, the plants’ health will not be up to the mark. And that’s how you measure the quality.

Why should you use LED Grow Lights?

Verdant lettuce heads growing under radiant purple LED grow lights in a hydroponic farm setup.

Knowing the advantages of using something will inspire you to get one. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using LED grow lights:

Longer lifespan

This is a significant advantage of LED grow lights. Grow lights have an extended lifetime of 50.000 to 100.000 hours, which means the continuous use of five years or more. Before buying one, check the specifications of that model and buy one that has at least a lifetime of 50.000 hours.

The energy consumption of these lights is lower than that of traditional light. A unique thing about LED grow lights is that they warn before losing power. At maximum lifespan, some chips will be dark, and some will emit less bright light.

So you have time for the replacement. Some models are provided with the facility to change an individual chip.

Flexibility factor

You can use LED grow lights in any possible way for which you won’t stop applauding. Many gardeners prefer LEDs for this reason.

It is best to place light bulbs and panels close to the plants so that they can have maximum brightness.

Increased brightness

Normal plant light emits heat more than light. Both are crucial for growing a plant but at a proportional limit. LED grow light provides you with a balanced proportion of heat and light.

Because they are designed in a way that enables them to provide more light and optimal heat, in this regard, you should know that excess heat affects plant growth.

Great growth

Plants’ growth will be at speed when they are provided with optimum light. Adjusting the duration of daylight increases growth even more. The results are remarkable in the field of horticulture.

No necessity for ballast and reflectors

The LED grow lights don’t need ballast, making them lighter than the standard grow lighting system. You can fit these into regular light fittings, and you won’t face any issues. Since LEDs have their reflectors so don’t need extra reflectors.

Targeted light frequencies

You must check and control the conditions when growing plants in the home or outside following the greenhouse technique.

In research, we see that when plants have specific wavelengths of light, they absorb maximum chlorophyll, 400-500 nm, and 600-700 nm is the range. And LED lights are capable of meeting the range.

Pro Advice: You can use LED grow lights with one of our most suggested grow tents to get the best results.

Also, check out the 10 Steps to Building the Perfect Indoor Grow Room.

How to use LED Grow Lights?

The process of using LED grow lights is given below:

Step 1:

  • Adjust the height of the lights as they are hung above the plants.
  • Early vegetative stage – fit the light approximately 300mm above the plant. Thus it ensures the lowest inter-nodal length and provides inter-nodes.
  • Vegetative stage – increase the distance between light and plants, which may be between 300-600 mm. Plants with many leaves need the light to be lower so the light can reach the lower branches of those plants. Also, if your plant needs higher light levels, keep the LEDs 300 mm above; if we need lower light levels, then keep the LEDs 600 mm above.
  • Flowering, nascent stage – you can maintain a height of 300-600 mm from the canopy. But 400 mm is the clear height above the canopy.

Step 2:

  • Alter your watering. If you newly start with the LED, watering may cause some problems.
  • Watering guides are primarily based on HPS lighting. In this process, evaporation occurs; that’s why watering is necessary. But watering or feeding is not the issue regarding LED grow lights. So watering may cause danger to the plants.

Step 3:

Even if feeding the plants is necessary, it can’t be as you want. There is a specification for feeding in the presence of LED grow lights.

It would help if you fed your plants 30% of HPS lighting feeding. Add Cal-Mag when your plants are growing under LED lighting. In a hydroponic system, evaporation is reduced, so you must provide less topping of the nutrient.

Step 4:

In winter, you need to supply additional heat in the room. It will boost the growth of the plants. Heat in the growing area is much less than that of HPS lighting.

In winter, this may cause some problems, so you should keep an eye on the plants using LED grow lights.

Aisle in a hydroponic greenhouse illuminated by intense pink LED grow lights nurturing various plants.

Special tips

Install multiple units

LED grow lights can create a targeted light output. It is possible by using optics. So you can spotlight a particular section of the grow, and thus you can repeat each section. Plants will be under conservation if you implement multiple sections.

It will maximize light distribution, and you can save money. A qualified light company can help you; they will plan everything if you ask.

Define light cycles

The life cycle is a crucial one for a crop’s biological life. Growers can manipulate it by increasing or decreasing light hours.

Greenhouse growers can do this by using blackout curtains and extra lighting. In the vegetative stage, 18 hours of daylight per day is necessary for flowers. Vegetative crops will grow well at 17-18 hours of light per day.

Light

The sufficient light level for flowering is 400 and 700 uMoles/m-2s. The light should be distributed evenly over the canopy. As LED grow lights’ lighting is directional, keep an eye on it. Light closer than 10” can cause bleaching.

SOG and SCROG techniques will help to develop flowering canopy depth between 12” and -16”, and light will reach all the sites. Prune by the end of week two if any flower is lower than this level.

By week four, remove all large fan leaves so light can reach them. It is crucial to ensure that light access consistent.

Temperature

78F is the most appreciated optimal temperature for any plant. Then the carbon dioxide level should be 360 PPM. You should monitor the root zone temperature. Air temperature higher than 85F needs more perfect dark period air temperature.

Nutrients

As the temperature increases, nutrient concentration gets higher in the drier regions. It can create toxic levels in the root zone. So, reduce 25-30% nutrient concentration.

Also, check out the Best Hydroponic Nutrients Buyer Guide and Reviews.

Safety measures

  • Put on eye protection when working with equipment in a greenhouse for the sake of UV radiation.
  • Protect your skin when working in the LED grow light at any time.
  • If the surface gets too hot, increase the distance between the LED light and the surface. For a low-wattage system, a 2 to 3-foot difference between lights and the top of the plants is all right. The high-wattage system needs 4 to 6 feet.
  • Keep cords and fixtures away from the irrigation system.
  • When you prefer fluorescent bulbs, select grow light bulbs with no toxic coatings. So chemical hazards will not happen because of the breakage.
  • Install the lights properly with a protective lens to minimize the danger of toxic materials like mercury.

If you would love to get LED Grow Lights? Check out my favorite pick on Amazon.

Our most frequently asked questions on LED grow lights.

Should you keep the lights ON all the time?

It depends on the growing stage. During the vegetative stage, 24 hours of lighting won’t cause a problem. But 12 hours of lighting will be excellent during the flowering or fruiting stage.

Will regular LED lights give the same results?

Yes, but it’s not a wise decision. After the excellent soil, the quality of the lights will be the most significant investment.

Could you invest in dimmable lights to adjust the light spectrum?

Adjusting the height will not be necessary in the case of dimmable lights, which is the primary purpose of using them. Veg dimmer and bloom dimmer are included in the dimmable series.

Final thought

Growing plants is a great job nowadays when the climate is unstable. So you can contribute to protecting the environment by choosing to go greener.

Overall knowledge of grow lights is crucial, considering light intensity may change more than before at a particular season.

So plants you were producing before must change, and the production will be hampered. Keeping all these in mind, LED grow light investing is the best option.

LEDs can help save you money and strength. So if you are a grower, it is high time you invented LED grow lights.

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